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Tag: User Experience

How do you “do” personalized experiences?

Gilbane’s Digital Experience Conference

Washington DC April 28 – 29, Workshops May 1

facing crowd

Personalization is hard, and not getting it right isn’t an option — we’ve all experienced what that can look like. Colin Eagan provides a road map — what an “experience designer” needs to do throughout the process from technology selection through to iterative improvement. 

B104. Designing Personalized Experiences 

It’s now estimated that some 45% of organizations have attempted to personalize their own homepage in some way — but fewer than a third think it’s actually “working.” If that scares you, you’re not alone: As personalization technology races from niche to mainstream, the design community is racing to catch up. It’s time for a UX intervention. This highly practical talk focuses on the role of experience designer in influencing user-centered personalization design, including technology selection, user data models, and, of course, wireframes. Specifically, it covers what the well-versed designer should know about the latest personalization technology; what to do when you get a request to “do personalization” (either at your organization or your clients’); how to fit personalized user content into a larger information design system; how to use your role in UX to influence technical product selection; grow to translate actual user needs into a real-time user data model (“living personas”); wireframe-level guidelines for introducing personalized components in web and email; and creating a measurement framework based on “quick-wins” and iterative improvement.

Monday, April 29: 2:15 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.


Colin Eagan

Colin Eagan
Principal, User Experience Design, ICF NEXT

 

 

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Creating the Global User Experience

I was gratified to have the opportunity to do a presentation on the Global User Experience at the Gilbane Conference, as well as moderating several sessions in the technology track. For those that missed my presentation, I’ve posted a short recap here and a further exploration of the topic.

A common theme throughout the conference sessions was digital experiences and the role of mobile, web, content management, and other technologies in providing superior experiences to customers. That’s to be expected as creating superior customer experiences is a strategic imperative for most organizations, and also the current focus of most content software solutions in the marketplace, including content management systems. What is often overlooked (and the subject of my presentation) is that the CMS doesn’t just support delivery of the customer experience—it also has to support the behind the scenes players that create the customer experience.

Providing a compelling digital user experience is a complex undertaking no matter what the nature of the business or enterprise. It requires a range of talents including authoring, curation, story telling, design, and development, testing and deployment—and the tools to effectively support those diverse skill sets.

The heart of that experience is a modern CMS; in fact, delivering compelling digital user experiences is virtually impossible without one. But selecting the right CMS is challenging—after all, there are many to choose from and it can be difficult to differentiate products—most promise to deliver superior digital user experiences.

But one thing that is often overlooked is that creating great customer experiences requires an orchestrated approach by the “other users” of the CMS: editors and developers. It also requires the integration of tools and content that may reside outside of the CMS. In other words, the quality of the customer experience is directly related to the quality of the experience that a CMS provides to content creators, developers, and integrators.

Digging a bit deeper, content creators are actually a diverse collection of roles and skill sets, not just authors and editors. What’s common across those roles is that many are not full time professional content authors, which makes the quality of the content creator experience vitally important. Content creators want to use tools that are easy and familiar with a short learning curve. Most of all, they want to be able to focus on telling stories and creating great content, not mastering complex tools.

Developers, like content creators, also value ease of use and familiarity. They want to use tools, languages, and frameworks that they are familiar with and that work well in the technology environment in which they live. Most importantly, they want and need to be involved in the process of selecting a CMS—failure to include IT will lead to increased time to operation, and a risk that the chosen solution won’t work well in the enterprise’s IT environment.

The integrator experience involves the developers, partners, and vendors that have to integrate the CMS with enterprise systems and applications (the installed base), but also with solutions from other vendors that help provide the customer experience. If integration is difficult, it will take more time or, worse yet, not be done. Poorly done integration drains energy, productivity, and innovation leading to later, less desirable results.

The solution to providing the global user experience is a well-architected CMS that provides comfortable and easy-to-use core functionality while easily integrating with enterprise and third party tools and applications. The selection of that CMS requires a concerted and cooperative effort on the part of all stakeholders that will ultimately use the content management system. Selection of a CMS is not a technology decision, it’s a strategic business decision that warrants the time, effort, and participation of all business and technology stakeholders in order to render the best decision.

W3C Refining Metrics to Measure User Experience

The W3C’s Web Performance Working Group is working on a specification to define 20 “fine-grained” metrics to measure the duration of just about every aspect of a web user’s navigation behavior. The W3C’s working draft of the Navigation Timing Specification is in the “last call for comments” phase. After being finalized, it will specify 20 measurements for every page visited. http://test.w3.org/webperf/specs/NavigationTiming/

Where and How Can You Look for Good Enterprise Search Interface Design?

Designing an enterprise search interface that employees will use on their intranet is challenging in any circumstance. But starting from nothing more than verbal comments or even a written specification is really hard. However, conversations about what is needed and wanted are informative because they can be aggregated to form the basis for the overarching design.

Frequently, enterprise stakeholders will reference a commercial web site they like or even search tools within social sites. These are a great starting point for a designer to explore. It makes a lot of sense to visit scores of sites that are publicly accessible or sites where you have an account and navigate around to see how they handle various design elements.

To start, look at:

  • How easy is it to find a search box?
  • Is there an option to do advanced searches (Boolean or parametric searching)?
  • Is there a navigation option to traverse a taxonomy of terms?
  • Is there a “help” option with relevant examples for doing different kinds of searches?
  • What happens when you search for a word that has several spellings or synonyms, a phrase (with or without quotes), a phrase with the word and in it, a numeral, or a date?
  • How are results displayed: what information is included, what is the order of the results and can you change them? Can you manipulate results or search within the set?
  • Is the interface uncluttered and easily understood?

The point of this list of questions is that you can use it to build a set of criteria for designing what your enterprise will use and adopt, enthusiastically. But this is only a beginning. By actually visiting many sites outside your enterprise, you will find features that you never thought to include or aggravations that you will surely want to avoid. From these experiences on external sites, you can build up a good list of what is important to include or banish from your design.

When you find sites that you think are exemplary, ask key stakeholders to visit them and give you their feedback, preferences and dislikes. Particularly, you want to note what confuses them or enthusiastic comments about what excites them.

This post originated because several press notices in the past month brought to my attention Web applications that have sophisticated and very specialized search applications. I think they can provide terrific ideas for the enterprise search design team and also be used to demonstrate to your internal users just what is possible.

Check out these applications and articles: on KNovel, particularly this KNovel pageThomasNet; EBSCOHost mentioned in this article about the “deep Web.”. All these applications reveal superior search capabilities, have long track records, and are already used by enterprises every day. Because they are already successful in the enterprise, some by subscription, they are worth a second look as examples of how to approach your enterprise’s search interface design.

WCM Trends for 2007: Monetization of Content

As consumer behavioral patterns across verticals (including retail, media and entertainment, and financial services) increasingly shift toward online channels, Web content must become increasingly monetizable. Factors which improve the monetizability of content relate primarily to rich user experiences, which require Web applications to combine behavioral analytics with the cross-platform, targeted delivery of digital media of all types (audio, video, streaming content, Flash, myriad image types), all available customer data, and content from Web services-based sources (maps, shipping information, weather reports, stock quotes, news). Not only must successful Web applications seamlessly wrap these components together behind the scenes, they must supply an interactive presentation layer that is aesthetically pleasing and easy-to-use. The primacy of the trend toward monetizable content will fuel other trends in the WCM space, among them, the heightened importance of:

  • Design agencies as WCM solution providers. Vendors to watch: Blast Radius, Avenue A | Razorfish, Molecular.
  • Analytics functionality within the WCM application to support multi-channel marketing campaigns. Vendors to watch: Interwoven, CrownPeak.
  • The ability to incorporate rich media at the content creation stage. Vendors to watch: Adobe, ClearStory Systems, EMC/Documentum.
  • Support for integrated search and advertising/merchandising. Vendors to watch: Endeca, FAST, Google.
  • The emergence of WCM applications as primary brand managers. This is a channel strategy decision and is not vendor-oriented in nature.

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